British Airways Strike: Check Your Travel Insurance Policies

With the imminent start of the British Airways cabin crew strike flights travellers are warned to check their travel insurance policies.

Travel Insurance

The delayed departure or abandonment cover offered by many travel insurance policies can never fully compensate you for spending time in the departure lounge when you could be on the piste, on the beach or with your loved ones, but a claim on your travel insurance may at least compensate you for the cost of having to delay or cancel your trip.

That said, travel insurance policies taken out after the 12th of March, the day when the actual strike dates were announced, will not cover you against any delays or subsequent abandonment caused by the strikes, as the event was known when you took out the policy. 

An EU travel directive gives passengers rights to compensation by airlines in certain circumstances. For example, if you check-in for your flight on time but are prevented from boarding because the plane is full the airline must offer you financial compensation. Also, if you are delayed for more than two hours the airline must offer you meals and refreshments, access to communications and hotel accommodation, if appropriate. If you are delayed for more than 5 hours the airline must offer you a full refund of your ticket.

According to travel insurance compensation if you’re delayed can vary greatly and some are providers are more generous, and more useful, than others.

For example, although AIG Direct’s Platinum cover will allow you to claim a maximum of £500 per insured person for a delayed departure, you would have to be delayed for 25 days in order to claim the maximum allowable. 

With American Express Single Trip cover you can claim £35 per insured person once you’ve been delayed for just six hours and then an additional £35 for each further 12 hour delay, up to a maximum of £350 per person. It would take a delay of 4.75 days to claim the maximum £350 allowable from American Express. Virgin’s ‘Gold’ travel insurance pays out £40 after a 12 hour delay and another £20 for each subsequent 12 hour period, up to a maximum of £400. However, Virgin’s budget ‘Red’ travel cover does not provide any delayed departure cover at all.

Most travel insurance policies will have some form of abandonment cover, albeit with many you must have delayed for at least 24 hours to make a claim. For example Endsleigh’s ‘Essential’ travel cover will allow you to claim for up to £5000 of unused and irrecoverable travel and accommodation costs once a 12 hour delay has elapsed. Virgin’s budget single trip ‘Red’ cover allows you to claim up to £2000 of your irrecoverable travel and accommodation costs with a £75 excess.

Mark Greening, head of product partnerships at, said: “Yet again it will be innocent passengers who will be most disrupted when British Airways staff take industrial action. Unfortunately travel insurance can’t make your flight take off on time but many policies do offer useful cover which will help you meet the unexpected extra cost of food and drink whilst you’re hanging around the departure lounge.”

He added “In all cases check the terms of your insurance carefully and get official confirmation of the length of the delay and the reason for it from your travel operator or airline as your insurers will need to see proof when you submit your claim.

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